Wednesday, July 09, 2008

"Something in our spirit dies if we accept the taming of wildness" Rose Flint tells the Women & Wildness poetry workshop at the library on Monday. "We should all connect with it, be aware of our sensual bodies and our inner wildness, and honour our right to live our lives the way we want to be."

Nathan Filer, guest at the Festival Poetry Cafe that evening, is reflective too.

He says he feels full of love for us, but crushingly sad, because we're all going to die. He also says my pictures of him are disconcerting. There may be some connection here. Nathan gives us 3 sets, all new material, all brilliant & bizarre, and much appreciated by the record-number audience crammed into the Garden Cafe.

Eleven open-mic contributers competed for the 'Festival Poet Laureate' title, sharing a range of thoughts and styles, and good-humouredly submitting to random judgement by coloured card. And the winner is.... David Sollors! I forgot to get a pic of David in his moment of triumph, but here's one of our new champ enjoying Nathan tell us how he overcome his own aversion to slam contests: "There's nothing that makes a person reassess the validity of competition like winning it."

'I feel like I've landed in the middle of the Mad Hatter's tea-party crossed with a Chinese laundry' says MC Elvis McGonagall at the start of the "Green is the New Black" fashion show on Tuesday night. The event's a sell-out, with about 500 people crowding around the catwalk for Elvis's 'retro and preloved' poems, the music, the amazing costumes, the whole crazy glitzy glam-rock street-theatreness of it all... The 2-Mandy organisers urge us to "worship guilt-free at the altar of fashion' and green-awareness has never been such fun. Fantastic.

Undeterred by the arrival of monsoon season, audiences continue to arrive in unexpectedly large consignments. 'Desert Island Reads' needed 3 extra rows of chairs and an extended interval to accommodate the queue for cake (thank you, Dining Divas, for that scrumptious array). Readings were yummy too: thought-provoking, sensuous, funny, and profoundly personal.
Sarah Duncan led us off with Ann Tyler's 'Accidental Tourist' and the theme of intimate journeys underlay several other choices: Rose Flint's pick of 'Prodigal Summer' by Barbara Kingsolver for its 'plea to be awake to diversity, and beauty, and pain'; John Birkett-Smith took us to Mani in Greece with travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, and Peter Macfadyen reminded us that 'when the earth shrugs its shoulders' and throws us into climatic disarray we all need to ask, as Tom Hodgkinson does, whether we should learn to be more idle.
Alison Clink's journey was back in time, to 1967, with Martin Philips's 'Listening to Coloured Dreams' and, linking to thoughts of herbal refreshment, poet Dave Angus gave a witty deconstruction of ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ with special emphasis on that mysterious Bong-tree, while Gordon Graft shared 3 great contemporary poems. Performance poetry, he said, 'doesn't exclude anyone, so it's very dear to my heart.' Although nothing was pre-planned, Annie Lionnet's choice of 'The Middle Passage' by James Hollis united all this diversity, his message recalling the theme of Rose's workshop: "Follow your passion. Choice is what defines, and validates, a life. We must say 'yes' to the journey."

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